Rocky 2: Back for More?

Rocky 2 (1979 US 24S)

Way back at the beginning of the year, Dan Sileo gave me my first assignment: “Rocky.” Clearly one of his favorite movies, I enjoyed the classic as it focused on a man’s fight for respect. The outcome of the fight didn’t matter but instead that he proved himself. Frankly I did not think it needed a sequel…or five.

To start, “Rocky II” essentially replays the ending of the first film with Apollo Creed saying there won’t be a rematch. Of course as more and more people criticize the champ as well as throw his credibility into question, he must fight Rocky Balboa again. Unfortunately our hero isn’t interested in fighting again.

After marrying Adrian who soon becomes pregnant, Rocky looks to retire from boxing and live a normal life. His lack of education, however, keeps him from obtaining this especially his inability to read cue cards for advertisers. Of course he was spending lavishly making this downturn fairly predictable. That said it was a good illustration of what happens to many athletes nowadays. They do not focus on education so when their careers end, there aren’t many opportunities available.

Through all of this, Rocky begins to feel the pressure from Apollo and decides to compete in the rematch. Much like the first one though he doesn’t take it seriously early on but after Adrian falls into a coma after giving birth, Rocky begins to focus. All she has to tell him is to win and it’s on.

Similar to its predecessor, “Rocky II” suffers from, wait for it, a slow pace. I mean it’s all about building the obstacles Rocky has to overcome which is great but also drags. I mean you knew he couldn’t buy a new car and a new house and then not have to worry about money. Plus even some of the training scenes were reminiscent of the first film. While I still enjoyed them, they also felt like a bit of a cop out.

However a theme I enjoyed about both films is the relationship between Rocky and Adrian. Once again she is his rock who always supports him. When he is being made fun of or is having doubts, she keeps him centered. Their growth as a couple is one of the biggest strengths of this movie.

The best part, as you would expect, is the fight. It’s another long fight with Rocky taking too many punches to the head. I mean I know he is supposed to take a lot but sometimes it gets old. But you forget that as he continues to fight and in the end, when he climbs up as Apollo can’t, you have a similar emotional reaction to that of the original film’s ending.

Overall “Rocky II” was a fine sequel but couldn’t pass the first one. The growth of Rocky and Adrian was good as well as another great ending fight but the pacing issues continued. You hope with sequels that they learn lessons from the first attempt and fix them, which wasn’t the case here. However this is still a good sequel. But with that many hits to the head, how many more movies can Rocky survive?

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